The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Tourism management replaces leisure studies

Students attempting to enroll in leisure studies and recreation classes have been shocked to discover the major no longer exists.

This has been the cause of a lot of panicked phone calls to Pat Tabidian, the department coordinator, and Karla Silva, a student assistant for the department.

“We let them know that we’re very much here, and very active,” Tabidian said.

The department still exists but has taken a new name. The major formally known as leisure studies and recreation is now called recreation and tourism management.

“Students who are enrolling now are having trouble because they are looking for classes under the old name in SOLAR,” Craig Finney, the department chair, said.

The listing for LSR is simply gone, without a link to the new RTM. Tabidian pointed out that the two listings are far enough separated on the alphabetical list that there is little chance that students would notice the change on their own. A portal alert was finally sent out on Nov. 20.

“We were told that the university would take care of it, no problem. Well, that turned out not to be the case – it’s a big problem,” Tabidian said.

Even though the change was approved a year ago, the directory, schedule of classes, and the course catalogue have yet to be updated.

Silva said that most of the calls they receive are from people looking for general education courses rather than majors, since many professors have discussed the change in their classes.

The professors seem to be excited about the change. “‘Leisure studies’ was a terrible term,” Scott Williams, an RTM professor, said.

“Nobody wants to go home and tell their parents that they’re majoring in leisure studies; that’s something dad doesn’t like,” Williams said. He added that the term was outdated, a remnant of the 1970s, and “should have been changed a long time ago.”

“We’ve been looking at it for over 20 years,” Finney said. In the past, the university was resistant, but when he became department chair two years ago he raised the issue again, Finney said.

“It reflects a movement across the nation,” Finney said. After 9/11 people began to realize just how important tourism is to the economy, especially in places like California. Finney said that worldwide, the dollars pouring into tourism are second only to the amount spent on waging war.

“It’s a huge industry, and this department is providing management type skills. We’re not just talking about ticket agents,” Finney said.

Students who graduate with a degree in RTM can end up in a variety of areas: at sporting venues such as the Staples Center and Dodger Stadium, planning weddings, managing hotels, and the list goes on.

The name change also reflects a shift in the focus of the program. Each semester a new class is being added, with more of a focus on tourism and hospitality. There are two travel courses, which take students to Costa Rica or Maui. They are working on adding courses in hospitality marketing and ecotourism for next year.

Williams has been a big part of the shift since he came to CSUN a year and a half ago. When asked his specialty, he listed off several terms and then summed himself up as “the business side of things.” Tabidian said that Williams “brings the practical” to the program.

Finney said that his department is known as a “discovery major,” and many students come to it through their general education courses.

“It simply hasn’t been introduced to you in an academic environment,” as are disciplines such as English or the sciences, Finney said.

Finney hopes that the buzz from the name change will help draw more students to the department.

The name change should also change people’s perception of the program. Students will no longer have to bear the cynicism that the old title inspired, will not have to rush to explain what they are really studying.

The new title accurately reflects the focus of the program.

“The bottom line: for people outside the major, they’re more apt to understand,” Williams said.

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